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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Google Print Job 

I haven't posted in the past five days. Extenuating circumstances: Budget Hell. You all know what I mean.

(For some reason, I remember a day when budgets were done by early October. And by done, I mean done. This year, I plan to have final final budgets done sometime after the new year. Sheesh.)

In the meantime, I came across this listing for a job at Google, which is looking for a director of publication ad sales.

Grab: Main responsibility is to develop and execute on a strategy for driving publication ad sales with all advertisers in the publication category on a national/international level, working with all Google sales channels (Regional Sales, Inside Sales, Online Sales) and resources (Product/Product Field Marketing).

BusinessWeek takes a look at the 'slow start' for Google's print ad program. The piece is worth a read.

Grab: ...a BusinessWeek analysis of Google's pilot, including interviews with 10 advertisers and two publishers, indicates that advertisers haven't warmed to the program so far. Only one of 10 advertisers interviewed by BusinessWeek said their print ad performed well enough to recoup the money it cost. And eight of the 10 were unhappy enough with the results that they say they're unlikely to do further print advertising with Google. "The response was definitely less than we expected," says Ken Chang, director of operations at Apex Security Solutions, a seller of networked security cameras, which purchased an ad through Google in PC Magazine's Oct. 18 issue.

But Google has the cash and the cachet to be patient, and to hire the right people to give the effort a chance to flourish. The basic theory--to give smaller advertisers a chance to play in the big-boy print fields--makes sense. And even though print advertising currently requires a different approach than search advertising, and therefore may not work for everyone, I think Google is properly anticipating a time when "print" ads are clickable and interactive. (See my fawning posts on e-paper technology).

But that doesn't mean that I like what Google is doing. I continue to believe that the Google business model (total control over pricing and "commissions") isn't going to be workable for us. How do you budget for Google revenues when you have zero say in what those revenues will be (other than the "say" of not taking the revenues at all?). One of my clients saw monthly AdSense revenues plummet to half of the normal average a few months ago. And that's at a time when unique visitors and clickthroughs have been going up dramatically.

Other publishers have seen the same phenomenon. See Folio:'s piece on this in the current issue.

Grab: "From Google’s perspective, if they’re not going to hit their quarterly numbers, they can just crank the AdSense percentage down from 32 percent to 31 percent and make $80 million overnight," [BZ Media president Ted Bahr] says. "We’re at the mercy of Google. These are still low maintenance dollars flowing into the company but it’s certainly not as exciting as it once was."

Can you imagine an independent ad rep who tells you what revenues you'll get per page and what commission percentage you'll pay, issue to issue? I didn't think so.

For additional commentary and alternative views, see Rex Hammock and Rafat Ali.


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